A member of the Taste&Travel editorial team came back from Asia recently with a T-shirt reading INDIA! A billion people can’t be wrong! And when it comes to vegetarian food, we are in total agreement. Roughly a third of India’s population, for a variety of religious and cultural reasons, is vegetarian and with thousands of years of kitchen culture under their belts (er, saris), Indian cooks have come up with one of the world’s most flavourful and diversified vegetarian cuisines.
Besan – chickpea flour – is a staple of the Indian vegetarian pantry. It’s the basis for various kinds of dumplings and desserts, it thickens curries and coats fritters, formed into a noodle shape and fried, it becomes an addictive savoury snack called sev.
Chickpea flour is used in the Mediterranean kitchen as well, most famously in panisse, a pancake popular in the south of France and its cousin farinata from Northern Italy. Besan is high in protein and very versatile and we think it’s a food that every vegetarian and vegan voyager should get to know. Besan has a nutty but neutral taste that enhances but doesn’t overwhelm other flavours. Depending on the direction you take with additional ingredients, chickpea flour can be adapted to many different cuisines and makes a great canvas for improvisation.